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Hard vs. Soft Maple

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  • Hard vs. Soft Maple


    OK, I finally learned how to make cabinet carcasses that are square (paid dues in plywood). Now I am moving on to the doors and am wondering about the differences between hard and soft maple and working with either. I am thinking soft maple can't be that soft. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Best regards,


  • #2
    Hard Maple

    Soft Maple


    • #3
      I kind of take issue with a couple of the points made by the Hardwoodweb links.

      Regarding Hard Maple, they write: The burled wood resembles small circular or elliptical figures, that also are called "birds-eye," and when more irregular in nature are called "fiddleback."
      That is incorrect on two counts. Bird's-eye figure does not have anything to do with burls. Fiddleback figure is related to curl figure, not bird's-eye.

      On Soft Maple, they write: Soft Maple is straight-grained, without the exceptional burled or "birds-eye" characteristics that can be found in Hard Maple.

      Same objection, plus they fail to mention that curl figure is more common in Soft Maple than it is in Hard Maple.

      Both of the pictures they show are either of finished samples, or their color rendition is poor. In both Hard and Soft Maple, the sapwood is more prized than the heartwood, and is very white. Hard Maple is the whiter of the two, and has more distinct grain lines in my experience.

      The "soft" is Soft Maple is relative. Hard Maple is one of the hardest North American woods. Soft Maple is not as hard as that, but still hard. I'd say it compares close to Cherry, maybe not quite as hard.